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Research conducted through the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI) includes participation from invited graduate students, Cornell faculty members, permanent TCI staff and individuals associated with various international and Indian institutions and organizations. TCI provides funding support in the form of fellowships and research scholarships for investigating the agriculture-nutrition nexus within the scope of TCI research agenda.

TCI Staff

TCI staff advance the research agenda by supporting TCI Interns, Scholars and Fellows during their fieldwork experiences and through conducting original research and analysis. Staff also develop programs which foment multi-sectoral collaboration with partner institutions and across academic disciplines at Cornell University. They are based in Ithaca, New York and Mumbai, India.

Dr. Prabhu Pingali

Dr. Prabhu Pingali is the Founding Director of the Tata-Cornell Institute and a Professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, with a joint appointment in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University. Prior to moving to Ithaca in June 2013, he was the Deputy Director, Agriculture Development Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from 2008-May 2013. Dr. Pingali was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as a Foreign Fellow in May 2007. He was the President of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE) from 2003-2006. He was elected Fellow of the American Agricultural Economics Association in 2006 and of the International Association of Agricultural Economists in 2009. Additional information about Dr. Pingali can be found on his profile page and this latest publications page.

Dr. Bhaskar Mittra

Dr. Bhaskar Mittra teaches at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and is the Associate Director of the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI). Apart from teaching various courses at TISS, he is responsible for managing India-based operations for TCI. He is the TISS Representative to the Technical Assistance and Research for Indian Nutrition and Agriculture (TARINA) Steering Committee. Dr. Mittra’s work focuses on a variety of topics such as poverty and livelihoods, agriculture development, natural resource management, institutions (market-based and community-led), community-based natural resource conservation, and public policy. He has published extensively on institutional, economic, and ecological aspects of communities living in some of the most marginalized and poorest regions in India. He is closely associated with several well-known civil society organizations working at the grassroots level throughout India.

Dr. Mathew Abraham

Dr. Mathew Abraham is the Assistant Director of the Tata-Cornell Institute and is responsible for coordinating the research of the TCI scholars and staff and for offering strategic guidance and support for project implementation. In his research capacity, he leads TCI’s efforts to map the pulses value chain and to evaluate collective action initiatives by small and marginal agricultural producers and marginalized groups in India. Previously, Mathew joined TCI as a post-doctoral associate in August 2015, after completing his PhD from the Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark in April 2015. Prior to that, he worked at the Centre Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. He has a Master’s Degree from Lund University, Sweden and a Bachelor’s Degree from St. Stephens College, Delhi.  His other research interests are in rural development and citizenship, agricultural markets, food security in developing countries, institutional innovation in rural development and social entrepreneurship. Contact

Jessica Ames

Jessica serves as the Communications and Outreach Manager at the Tata-Cornell Institute. Her primary responsibilities are to promote and disseminate the research outputs of the Institute, which includes preparing the annual report and donor reports, creating and managing content for the website and social media platforms, organizing events, promoting our brand, and cultivating a public profile across the Cornell University campus and beyond. She joined TCI early in its operations, and helped to shape the growth and development of the program in her role as Program Manager (2014-2017). Prior to working for TCI, Jessica worked as the Program Assistant to the Masters of Public Administration in Development Practice Program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). She also graduated from this program in 2014 with a concentration in nutrition policy and global health. Previously, Jessica supported the UN REACH (Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger) initiative on improved nutrition governance in Ghana. She worked as a refugee resettlement case manager in Houston and served as a Community Health Educator for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences and Bachelor of Arts in International and Area Studies from The University of Oklahoma, and as a native Texan, she has a passion for hospitality and good Mexican food.

Mary-Catherine French

Mary-Catherine (M.C.) provides administrative support to the Tata-Cornell Institute. She first began working at Cornell University in 1982 and has held a number of positions in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine, and most recently in the Division of Nutritional Sciences. M.C. was raised in a military family and had the opportunity to travel often (moving 12 times before she graduated high school). She holds a degree in Agronomy and Environmental Protection and is also a licensed, Registered Nurse. She and her husband, Dan, have two daughters and three beautiful grandchildren. They live on their organic cash crop farm in Lodi, New York.

Dr. Sri Raj

Srilakshmi (Sri) Raj is a human population geneticist who has expertise in Indian genetic variation. She is a Research Associate for TCI, and is jointly supervised by Director Prabhu Pingali and Professor Andrew Clark in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell University. Prior to her appointment at TCI, Sri received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Service Award to complete her postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell. Sri completed her PhD in Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge as a Gates Scholar, and her undergraduate at the University of Oxford. Sri was most recently listed as a Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017 for her research. Apart from science, Sri loves to travel, take very long walks, try new foods, and discover what others are passionate about.

Dr. Shubh Swain

Shubh Swain is the Program Coordinator for TCI-TARINA and the Gender & Nutrition Specialist at TCI. He is a demographer by training and has nearly a decade-long work experience in gender, nutrition, and public health in India and Africa. Shubh is responsible for the coordination of Ithaca and India-based efforts for the TCI-TARINA grant. He also focuses on building program and policy-informing evidence around gender, nutrition, food, and agriculture. In his research capacity, he studies issues like increasing women’s access to agricultural related services and empowering women for better nutritional outcomes in India. Shubh received his PhD in Demography from the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. He has managed and led many policy-influencing research projects on gender and public health while working with Population Council and Family Health International (FHI360) in India. Prior to joining TCI, Shubh was a Research Coordinator in the Division of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) at Cornell University. During his association with DNS, apart from teaching and mentoring students in a study aboard program, Shubh supported a research program designed to avert stunting thorough a multi-sectoral intervention in Tanzania. During his free time, Shubh loves cooking, travelling to food destinations, and playing djembe.

Dr. Soumya Gupta

Soumya Gupta is a Research Economist with the TCI program. Her research interests lie at the intersections of food security, agriculture and maternal and child nutrition. She is currently associated with TCI’s TARINA project and is working on activities centered on research design, project implementation and evaluation as well as empirical research. Soumya received her PhD from Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. She was awarded the inaugural Paula Kantor Award for Excellence in Field Research by the International Council for Research on Women. Soumya has a Masters degree in Economics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University and a Bachelors degree in Economics from Delhi University in India. She has extensive research and teaching experience in India prior to joining Cornell. Contact

Dr. Anaka Aiyar

Anaka Aiyar is a Post-Doctoral Associate with TCI. Her research project explores the mechanisms that explain why states in India have had disparate experiences in economic development over the last few decades. The project aims to first, explain how economic development has impacted nutrition security within each state and second, help policy makers develop targeted strategies that improve nutrition security within each state. Anaka obtained her PhD in Economics at the University of California, Riverside. Prior to her PhD, she worked for nearly half a decade in India on field based action research projects. Her projects included conducting an impact evaluation of government policy in Karnataka and conducting market research for social entrepreneurs working on improving the livelihoods of people living in rural areas of Tamil Nadu. Her research interests are driven by her passion to positively impact the lives of less privileged individuals living in developing countries.

Dr. Andaleeb Rahman

Andaleeb Rahman is a Post-Doctoral Associate at the TCI. He is an economist by training. His research interests are economic and human development. Much of his work explores aspects of agriculture, food and nutritional security in India. At TCI, Andaleeb is pursuing his research around the social safety nets in India. In a separate body of work, he is studying how social identity affects economic outcomes. Prior to joining TCI, Andaleeb worked at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bangalore investigating into the issues of climate change adaptation and its impact on livelihoods. He wrote his doctoral dissertation at the Indira Gandhi Institute for Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai where he looked into different aspects of the Public Distribution System (PDS) such as its impact on nutrition and the private trade.

Dr. Sunaina Dhingra

Sunaina Dhingra is a Post-Doctoral Associate with the Tata-Cornell Institute. Her current research addresses the extent to which early childhood (pre-school) exposure to India’s Integrated Child Development Scheme affects cognitive, schooling and anthropometric outcomes once children age out of the intervention and begin to attend primary school. Her other research interest lies in examining the role of women’s bargaining power in intra-household decision making and how that may influence the gender bias in human capital investments on children. She obtained her Ph.D. in Economics from the Delhi School Economics in March 2018 under the mentorship of Prof. JV Meenakshi and Dr. Deepti Goel. Her thesis attempts to evaluate the principal drivers of nutritional and education outcomes for children in rural India in general, and for girls in particular. Prior to joining TCI, she was employed by the Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics as an Assistant Professor, where she provided teaching support to Master’s students in two courses: Microeconomics and a course on Indian Economic Policy and Development.

Kiera Crowley

Kiera is a Research Support Specialist at the Tata-Cornell Institute. Her research focuses on mapping trends in food, agriculture, and nutrition in India. She is working closely with Post-Doctoral Associate Dr. Andaleeb Rahman to prepare a report of these trends. Before coming to TCI, Kiera completed her master’s degree in Soil and Crop Sciences at Cornell University, where she conducted a field experiment comparing the effects of different cover crop management strategies on soil health, weed suppression, crop yield, and profitability. Prior to her master’s, Kiera earned her B.A. in Chinese and Geography at Colgate University, and spent a year in China on a Fulbright Scholarship researching the development of organic agriculture. In the future, Kiera would like to work to promote ecological agricultural practices in developing countries, with the aim of improving soil health and nutrition.

Abhinav Choudhry

Abhinav is a Research Support Specialist and is working on cleaning and analyzing data from the TARINA Baseline Survey, summarizing and synthesizing literature on agriculture and its relationship to public health, and assisting Prof. Prabhu Pingali in preparing research reports and presentations. Abhinav graduated with a Master of Public Administration degree from Cornell University with a concentration in Environmental Policy and also completed a fellowship program in Environmental Finance and Impact Investing. He previously received a Master’s degree in Finance and Control from the University of Delhi and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from Rajiv Gandhi Technological University. He has over four years of work experience in finance, especially as a mortgage lending specialist for small and medium enterprises. Also, he has worked with the Environmental Defense Fund as part of the Sustainable Agriculture team in order to find conservation finance solutions to mitigate greenhouse gas pollution and ameliorate the pernicious effects of agricultural runoff. Abhinav plans to utilize his multidisciplinary interests and skills, especially those in finance and technology, to solve environmental and public health problems. With a belief in lifelong learning, he is currently learning intermediate Mandarin and additional programming languages.

TCI Scholars

TCI Scholars include Cornell graduate students or Indian university graduate students who are in progress towards a Ph.D, masters, or equivalent degree, who are actively engaged in research aligning with TCI's key research priorities.

Naveen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Economics Department at Cornell University. He excels in applying microeconomics and econometrics to analyze policy relevant issues in Development Economics. He is especially interested in topics related to education, health and nutrition in developing countries. In his Job Market Paper, he measures the impact that enhanced school opportunities for parents has on their children’s learning outcomes on math, vernacular and English test scores. His other research examines a variety of topics including agriculture-nutrition linkages, child marriage, impact of weather shocks and infant mortality. Prior to joining the Ph.D. program, Naveen worked for three years on impact evaluation studies in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. He holds two masters degrees- an M.S. degree from the Economics department at Cornell and an M.A. in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Economics from Delhi University’s Shri Ram College of Commerce. His detailed profile is available here.

Shiuli Vanaja

Shiuli is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the field of Applied Economics and Management. Her research interests lie in the field of development economics and resource economics. She is interested in exploring the linkages between nutrition and poverty in a backward but natural resource-rich region of India. Shiuli has an M.Phil and M.S degree in Economics from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. As part of her M.Phil dissertation, she researched the changes in the development status of local population as a result of changes in the occupational structure, land availability and  forest based livelihood practices in the Sundargarh District of Odisha. Growing up in a tribal village in Madhya Pradesh and taking part in different socio-political human rights movements have inspired and encouraged her towards development economics.

Vidya Vemireddy

Vidya is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the field of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell’s Dyson School. Vidya is interested in Development Economics and, in particular, exploring the linkages between agriculture and development. Prior to joining Cornell, Vidya received a Masters degree in Economics from Boston University and a Bachelors degree from Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College for Women. In her view, her experience with social work and travel has helped her to understand the intricacies and complexities of the societies she cares about.

Kathryn Merckel

Katy is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the field of International Nutrition. She is interested in studying maternal and child nutrition in India, particularly the ways in which education and empowerment influence the consumption patterns of mothers and their families. Katy has been involved with TCI in several capacities over the past two years, first as a summer intern, and then as a Research Support Specialist. She holds a Master’s in International Development from Cornell, during which she studied patterns of intra-household food allocation in Maharashtra and Telangana. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She has studied Swahili as a Boren Scholar in Tanzania, and most recently was awarded a FLAS Fellowship from the US Department of Education to study Hindi.

Anthony Wenndt

Anthony is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the field of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology. He is interested in the biology and ecology of toxigenic fungi infecting crop plants and the impacts of mycotoxins on food security and nutrition. Before joining the research program of Rebecca J. Nelson at Cornell, Anthony received B.A. degrees in Biology and Russian Language with a concentration in Global Development Studies from Grinnell College. He has conducted research in the disciplines of plant pathology (USDA-ARS; University of Costa Rica), agricultural development (ICIPE; Mbita, Kenya), and land reform policy (United Nations FAO; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan), with especial emphasis on the intersections of agriculture, policy, and society. Anthony plans to engage with smallholders in India to characterize the extent of mycotoxin contamination in village-level food systems, and to develop context-specific survey methodologies for sustainable, scalable mycotoxin management.

Vidya Bharathi Rajkumar

Vidya is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the field of Applied Economics and Management. Vidya’s research interests lie in the field of Development Economics and Public Policy. Prior to joining Cornell, Vidya worked with a team of economists headed by Dr. Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard University) on a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) in Chennai, India, aimed at understanding the impact of chronic physical pain on productivity and cognitive function. Vidya holds a Master’s degree in Economics from Madras School of Economics, and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Chennai’s Stella Maris College, securing the #1 rank in both the programs. Her master’s thesis assessed the linkage between Political competition and Development Outcomes in Indian States, and she is currently working towards publishing it. She has briefly worked on a research project under the guidance of Dr. C. Rangarajan (Former Governor, Reserve Bank of India), studying the effectiveness of the Indian Government’s Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). As a summer intern at the Reserve Bank of India, Vidya studied the performance of government sponsored, lost cost credit opportunities for poor Indian farmers. Having worked in a neighborhood which houses some of India’s most underprivileged, Vidya strongly feels that her experiences have increased her drive to understand and study development issues better.

Payal Seth

Payal is a Ph.D. candidate in the field of Applied Economics and Management. Her work is primarily focused on development economics and applied econometrics. As a Tata-Cornell Scholar, her fieldwork involves around 1,000 households in 15 rural villages in India as she explores the linkages between sanitation and nutrition. 545 toilets have been built in the project villages with the aim of combatting the rampant practice of open defecation, using tools of behavior change communication and quantifying the impact of this intervention on the child health, sanitation practices, and the safety of women. Prior to joining Cornell, she graduated first in her class attaining a Bachelor’s in Economics from I.P College, Delhi University (DU) and ranked seventh in Delhi School of Economics, DU during her Master’s degree.

Rohil Sahai Bhatnagar

Rohil is a third year Ph.D. student in the field of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University. He holds a Bachelor’s of Engineering degree in Biotechnology from India, and a Master’s degree in Food Science and Technology from Cornell University. He has previously worked in both industrial and academic sectors, and is currently most interested in translating bench findings to optimize health outcomes in the field. His research is focused on developing novel iron-rich microalgae composites and exploring their utility as potential fortificants in food commodities to improve iron nutrition. In his role as a Tata-Cornell Scholar, he conducts fieldwork in rural, marginalized communities in India and studies location-specific community trends that modulate nutritional iron status. Through his work, he brings together various facets of food science, nutritional science, chemical engineering and social science in his quest to identify ideal food-based solutions to overcome iron malnutrition in the developing world.

Jocelyn Boiteau

Jocelyn is a third year Ph.D. student in the field of International Nutrition. She is interested in studying agriculture and nutrition linkages, specifically how changes in food systems impact women’s roles in agriculture and contribute to food and nutrition security. She plans to work on developing metrics for measuring food loss of perishable vegetables. Jocelyn received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University, completed a dietetic internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to become a registered dietitian, and briefly worked with a local NGO in Rajasthan on agriculture and nutrition activities. Before returning to Cornell, Jocelyn worked as the Project Administrator for the Food Aid Quality Review at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Kavya Krishnan

Kavya is a second year Ph.D. student in the field of Soil and Crop Sciences. Her primary research interests are studying soil health – particularly its effects on food security. For the fieldwork component of her PhD, she is working with India-based agricultural universities like the Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University in Bihar to advance India’s understanding of soil health. Prior to Cornell, Kavya received a joint Master’s degree in Soil Science and Agroecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she examined the effect of cover crop management on mineralizable nitrogen. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Environmental Biology. Moreover, she believes the detailed study of soil health will help give more focused direction to overall food policy and food security.

Anna David Thottappilly

Anna is a second year Ph.D. student in the field of Applied Economics and Management. Her primary research interest lies in looking into issues related to development and social mobility. She is interested in policy-oriented research that could aide in bridging the inequality gap. Prior to Cornell, Anna worked in the capacity of Assistant Professor at Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. Anna received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi. She graduated with third rank for the Economics Masters program from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. As part of her MPhil dissertation, she analyzed how intellectual property rights in the Indian agricultural markets could effect farmers, as the institutional setup in India was trying to adhere to the WTO requirements.

Bindvi Arora

Bindvi is a first year Ph.D. candidate in the field of Food Science. Her research interests include the development of novel food products and improving upon existing popular foods that can cater to the nutritionally deficient populations by interventions in processing technologies and use of alternate ingredients. Before joining Cornell, Bindvi worked at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute as a scientist. She developed technologies for products such as vegan sausages and mushroom cakes. Bindvi has a M.Sc. degree in Food Science and Technology from Banaras Hindu University. Her dissertation was on the development of stirred yoghurt fortified with enzymatically extracted lycopene.

Anshuman Gupta

Anshuman is currently pursuing his Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in International Development Studies. His primary interests lie in agriculture economics and he is passionate about creating sustainable value chains to enhance smallholder farmer incomes. Anshuman was last employed with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on a project aiming to increase household incomes through integrated interventions for skill building, institution strengthening and improving market linkages. He has also worked extensively with the State Rural Development Department, Government of Chhattisgarh, India where he was involved in designing and implementing large scale poverty alleviation programs in the farm and off-farm sector. Prior to joining Cornell, Anshuman obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka and a Post Graduate degree in Rural Management from Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), Gujarat.

Natasha Jha

Natasha is a first year Ph.D. student in the field of Applied Economics and Management. She is interested in studying the linkages between agriculture and nutrition and how these are likely to be impacted by climate shocks. Her research interests evolved from her experience as a research assistant in the Economics and Public Policy department at the Indian School of Business. As a researcher, she has worked on projects exploring the political economy behind the minimum support price of agricultural commodities in India and separately, on a project that enumerated farmer response to rainfall shocks and temperature variability. Natasha holds an M.A.in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics and an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Delhi.

Amrutha Jose Pampackal

Amrutha is a first year Ph.D. student in the field of Development Sociology. She is interested in studying the sociology of access to food, particularly among marginalized communities in India. Prior to joining Cornell, Amrutha worked with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in their Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division. The work she did at IFPRI ranged from preparation of evidence-based data notes to conducting fieldwork-based policy evaluations, all with a focus on nutrition and health policies in India. She also worked for two years at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, a public policy think-tank in New Delhi, as a research assistant to legislators. She enjoys conducting research on social policy in India and has co-authored a paper titled “Caste and Distributive Justice: Can Social Policy Address Durable Inequalities?”, published in Social Policy and Administration. Amrutha holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and an undergraduate degree in English from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi.

Chanchal Pramanik

Chanchal is a first year M.S./Ph.D. student in the field of Applied Economics and Management. His primary research interests lie in exploring data science concepts for rural livelihood development and policy interventions for the use of data. Prior to Cornell, Chanchal worked as a Data Scientist with the Digital Farming Initiatives (mKRISHI®) group of Tata Consultancy Services’ (TCS) Innovation Lab. He is a member of the Committee on Agricultural Statistics of the International Statistical Institute, representing young statisticians. He is a certified Chartered Statistician and Six Sigma Black Belt, accredited by the Royal Statistical Society and Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi respectively. Chanchal received his Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan and Master’s degree in Agricultural Statistics from Acharya N. G. Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad.

Kasim Saiyyad

Kasim Saiyyad is a candidate for a professional master’s degree in International Development, with a concentration in development policy.  Through this program, Kasim wants to explore the factors associated with poverty and their effects on food choices and nutrition, particularly in developing countries.

Kasim has more than eight years of experience in project management, monitoring and evaluation, MIS, and human resource management in the field of agriculture, livelihoods, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation. Prior to his studies at Cornell, Kasim was working for the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI), leading a community-based flour fortification program. It is a multi-partner, intervention-based nutrition research program in the State of Gujarat, India, mainly focusing on the reduction of micronutrient deficiency anemia among the tribal population and empowering tribal women’s Self Help Groups by providing them with livelihood activities. Previously, Kasim also worked as a Chief Administrative Officer in a health-based NGO in India.

Kasim is a Master of Business Administration with dual specialization in Marketing and Finance. He has also pursued research-based online courses on primary health care, nutrition, and social behavior change communication from premier academic institutions in India and abroad.

Karuna Salve

Karuna is a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) student in International Development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), Cornell University. She also holds a master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India. Before joining Cornell University, Karuna worked with TISS and the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition (TCI). She was part of a TISS-TCI team that designed a case study on BAIF Development Research Foundation – one of the largest organizations working in the field of agriculture and livelihoods in India. As a Program Officer in TCI, she was associated with the community-based flour fortification program running in Gujarat state in India. She was actively involved in the capacity building of the program stakeholders, awareness campaigns, and data management of the program. Karuna has extensively worked with women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs). She is also interested in studying the linkages between women’s empowerment and the household level nutrition status among the marginalized communities.

Vanisha Sharma

Vanisha is a first year Ph.D. student in Applied Economics, with a concentration in food and agriculture. Her research interests lie in the intersection of malnutrition and women’s empowerment in rural India. Prior to starting her Ph.D., Vanisha completed her Masters in Public Administration (with a focus in International Development), also from Cornell. During her Master’s degree, Vanisha was a Graduate Research Assistant at Tata-Cornell, where she was responsible for cleaning and observing data across approximately four thousand households in rural India, and creating District Factsheets for Technical Assistance for Research for Indian Nutrition and Agriculture (TARINA), one of the ongoing projects of the institute. Vanisha also holds an undergraduate degree in Economics, from the University of Hong Kong, with a double minor in Psychology and Sociology.

TCI Faculty Fellows

TCI Fellows are TCI funded researchers that include Cornell faculty and staff, post-doctorates, or visiting researchers from other universities or institutions in India or worldwide, who are investigating research questions that align with TCI's key research priorities.

Dr. Debbie Cherney

Debbie Cherney (B.S., animal science, 1980, University of Florida; M.S., agronomy, Louisiana State University; Ph.D., animal nutrition, 1989, University of Florida; M.A., bioethics, Medical College of Wisconsin) is an Associate Professor of Animal Science at Cornell University. She teaches three undergraduate courses: Introduction to Animal Nutrition, Introduction to Animal Welfare, and Ethics in Animal Science. Her program aims to improve the profitability of forage/livestock operations, while at the same time minimizing any negative effects of forage crops on the environment. Many of her studies have involved evaluating or improving laboratory or in vitro techniques to assess forage quality, the goal of this effort being to improve and standardize routine laboratory methodology. She has published over 150 peer reviewed papers, chapters, and proceedings, and co-edited a popular book on forages (Grass for Dairy Cattle).

Dr. Mark A. Constas

Mark Constas is an Associate Professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University and an International Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is also a Fellow in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Global Sustainable Enterprise in the Johnson School of Management. With a specialization in impact evaluation and measurement, his research seeks to develop and test assessment tools to measure the ways in which households and communities achieve and maintain well-being in shock-prone contexts. His research is presently focused in the sub-Saharan region of Africa where droughts, environmental stresses, and political conflict undermine the livelihoods and threaten the well-being of vulnerable populations. He has recently initiated a set of projects that are focused on resilience measurement in Somalia and Kenya, working in close coordination with regional organizations and governmental authorities. Professor Constas is currently serving as Chair of the Resilience Measurement Technical Working Group, an effort jointly coordinated by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program, with support from the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development. Professor Constas’ work has been published in peer review journals and in other forms of publication. His most recent work has appeared in the journal of Food Security (with Tim Frankenberger), in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (with Chris Barrett), and in reports issued by the Food Security Information Network.

Dr. Nagesh Gavirneni

Nagesh Gavirneni is a professor of operations management in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. His research interests are in the areas of supply chain management, inventory control, production scheduling, simulation and optimization. He is now using these models and methodologies to solve problems in healthcare, agriculture and humanitarian logistics in developing countries. Previously, he was an assistant professor in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, the chief algorithm design engineer of SmartOps, a Software Architect at Maxager Technology, Inc. and a research scientist with Schlumberger. He has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT-Madras, a Master’s degree from Iowa State University, and a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. Contact

Dr. Bruce V. Lewenstein

Bruce Lewenstein (A.B., general studies in the humanities, 1980, University of Chicago; Ph.D., history and sociology of science, 1987, University of Pennsylvania) is Professor of Science Communication and chair of the Department of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University. He is also a full member of the Department of Communication.  He works primarily on the history of public communication of science, with excursions into other areas of science communication (such as informal science education).  He has been an active evaluator of informal science education projects, especially in areas of “citizen science.”  Dr. Lewenstein also has been active in international activities that contribute to education and research on public communication of science and technology, especially in the developing world. In general, he tries to document the ways that public communication is fundamental to the process of producing reliable knowledge about the natural world.

Dr. Rebecca Nelson

Rebecca Nelson is a Professor in Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science, and is a member of the fields of Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe-Biology, Plant Breeding & Genetics and International Agriculture & Rural Development. She serves as Scientific Director for The McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP). Rebecca serves as co-chair of the Thematic Group on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations.  She also serves on the SDSN’s Executive Committee. Rebecca teaches an undergraduate course on “Perspectives in International Agriculture and Rural Development” and contributes to other courses in international agriculture and plant pathology. Her research laboratory, based at Cornell University, collaborates with maize geneticists and breeders at Cornell, in Kenya and elsewhere. Ongoing research includes analyzing the genetic architecture of quantitative disease resistance and dissecting quantitative trait loci to identify mechanisms and genes that impair pathogen development, with a particular interest in multiple disease resistance and mycotoxin resistance. Prior to moving to Cornell in 2001, Rebecca worked at the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru (1996-2001), and at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines (1988-1996). Rebecca holds a B.A. degree from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. A MacArthur Fellow from 1998 through 2003, she has served on the editorial boards of Theoretical and Applied Genetics, Phytopathology, and the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.­

Dr. Harold van Es

Harold van Es is a Professor of Soil and Water Management and former Chair of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell University. He received degrees from the University of Amsterdam, Iowa State University and North Carolina State University. He works on approaches to precision soil management, with current emphases on soil health, a computational tool for precision nitrogen management (Adapt-N) that was recently commercialized, and space-time statistics. He has published over 110 peer reviewed papers and chapters, co-authored a widely-read book on sustainable soil management (Building Soils for Better Crops), developed numerous extension articles and videos, and advised 47 graduate students. He teaches an undergraduate course in Soil and Crop Management for Sustainability, and a graduate course in Space-Time Statistics. He is the President-Elect and a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, and also a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy.

Dr. Monroe Weber-Shirk

Dr. Weber-Shirk received his PhD in Environmental Engineering from Cornell University in 1992. His experiences working in Salvadoran refugee camps in Honduras helped shape his interest in sustainable technologies for safe drinking water. In 2005, he founded the AguaClara program to address the need for sustainable municipal scale water treatment in resource poor communities. His investigations of the widespread failure of automated and mechanized water treatment plants have provided the impetus to develop a new approach to solve this global infrastructure problem. He has guided the AguaClara team to invent a series of technologies that together make it possible to produce safe drinking water without using any electricity. He organized the AguaClara program to engage students to conduct research and create a free online water treatment plant design tool. He works to empower partner organizations that in turn empower communities to build, operate, and sustain their AguaClara water treatment plants. His research team is investigating methods to improve performance and reduce the cost of drinking water treatment. He guides students using a combination of peer-based, project-based, and lecture formats.

TCI Alumni

Dr. Maureen Valentine

Maureen completed her Ph.D. at Cornell University in August 2018 in the Animal Science department. Her research focused on enhancements to the productivity of goat production systems in rural India through improved animal nutrition. Livestock production in India faces a widespread problem of feed scarcity, which limits the ability of goats to meet their genetic potential. Maureen conducted a study in Kandhamal District of Odisha with tribal farmers that owned goats to learn how farmers’ goat management decisions impact animal health and the environment, and what were the effects of goat intensification through a semi-stall-fed production system on goat health, kid survival, and farmer adoption. Maureen completed her Master’s degree as a TCI Scholar at Cornell University, and her Bachelor’s degree is in Animal Science from North Carolina State University.

Fjolla Kondirolli

Fjolla was a Research Support Specialist for the Tata-Cornell Institute, where she carried out data analysis in support of the program’s research goals. She departed TCI in August 2018 to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Sussex. When she joined TCI in June 2017, she was involved in data management and analysis of the TARINA Baseline Survey, which will be used to generate evidence towards the objective of the program (promoting a more nutrition-sensitive food system in India). She also worked closely with Professor Prabhu Pingali on donor trends in agricultural research and development in developing countries, using available data on R&D expenditure by governments and international organizations such as CGIAR. Other research areas included the potential impacts of climate change on food security and the impact of women’s empowerment on household nutrition. Prior to joining TCI, she worked as an intern for the World Bank’s Doing Business report. She holds a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in international development studies from Cornell University.

Megan Witwer

Megan was the Program Manager for TCI’s flagship initiative TARINA, from its initiation in December 2015 through July 2018. Based in the TCI Office at Cornell University, she was responsible for liaising with India-based partners, monitoring and reporting on the progress of work, assisting with outreach and communications, overseeing project operations and providing research support where needed. Prior to joining the TCI team, Megan spent three years at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, where she worked to implement the Monitoring and Analyzing Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) program in Sub-Saharan Africa, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FAO, USAID, Dutch and German Development Cooperations. As a Policy Analyst at FAO, she supported partner countries in the analysis of agriculture-related policies and their impact on price incentives for producers, consumers and other actors in key commodity value chains. She has worked closely with research and government institutions in Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania, as well as regional economic communities and civil society organizations to foster evidence-based policy reform. She holds a Master of Regional Planning with a concentration in international studies from Cornell University.

Dr. Tanvi Rao

Tanvi completed her Ph.D. at Cornell University in the Applied Economics and Management (AEM) department in June 2017. Her primary research interests were in the field of development economics and applied econometrics. For her dissertation and as a TCI Scholar, she studied the demand for different types of higher (post-secondary) education in India. For this she conducted a primary survey of 12th grade students, across ten public colleges spanning urban and rural areas, in the East Indian state of Jharkhand. Her research identified students who are constrained in their ability to borrow for enrolling in different education tracks and experimentally evaluates the role of providing information regarding the measured returns to higher education types in the region, on the borrowing behavior of students and their education choices. Tanvi has also worked with ICRISAT’s VDSA panel dataset to study the relative importance of agricultural versus non-agricultural pathways of reducing malnutrition in India and on evaluating the effectiveness of India’s flagship village-level community health worker program, known as the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) program. She holds an M.S. degree from the same department, and prior to coming to Cornell, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics from Delhi University’s Shri Ram College of Commerce.

Amit Anshumali

Amit is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Development Sociology. Amit’s work focuses on the connections between seasonal labor migration and local economic development in central India, spanning the fields of rural sociology, development economics and anthropology of labor. His broad research objective is to examine the linkages and tensions between the effects of non-farm employment on seasonal migrant worker households’ vis-à-vis the development of the local economy in rural Vidarbha. Amit will examine the effects of non-farm employment on the distribution of household expenditures in farm worker households’ and intra-household gender inequality. He believes that decisions on how money is spent, who benefits from the money, and its short- and long-term effects on household poverty are critical to understand the implications of non-farm employment. For carrying out his field research, Amit will primarily use the techniques of survey design and semi-structured interviews. Before coming to Cornell, Amit finished a Master’s in Agricultural Economics as well as Environmental Sciences from the Ohio State University (OSU), and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Technology from the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) in Mumbai.

Phil Frost

Phil was a TCI Scholar until his graduation in December 2016. Phil’s research lied in the field of Soil Health and the development of an appropriate Soil Health Assessment Framework for Indian agriculture. With soil health, as in all agriculture, measurement precedes effective management. Therefore quantitatively measuring the physical, biological and chemical components of soil precedes remediation to allow for optimum crop and nutrition output. He worked in collaboration with TCI’s partner organization PRADAN in Jharkhand province.

Dr. Asha Sharma

Asha Sharma was a Post-Doctoral Associate with TCI from 2014-2016. Her work was to quantify risks due to climate change on agriculture in India. This effort builds on the extensive current body of work in this area by doing the analysis at a higher spatial and temporal resolution than is typical in such studies as well as incorporating the influence of multiple crops, extreme events and water resources. This comprehensive approach should ultimately allow us to identify key risks to nutrition due to climate change and place them in the context of other long-term trends. Asha has earned Master’s and PhD degrees in Biological and Environmental Engineering from Cornell, and a Bachelor of Technology in Industrial Biotechnology from Anna University, India. Her broader research interests include the intersection of water resources, climate change, and food systems, and the estimation of trends in water resources in data-scarce regions. Contact